The Primary Years Programme (PYP) is a curriculum framework designed by the International Baccalaureate (IB). Founded on a philosophy that recognizes a child’s natural curiosity, creativity and ability to reflect, the PYP generates a stimulating, challenging learning environment to nurture those assets and foster a lifelong love of learning in every child. The PYP is transdisciplinary, meaning students learn across subject areas while investigating big ideas.
In the PYP, students learn about significant concepts through units of inquiry. Grade 1-6 students study six transdisciplinary themes that guide units of inquiry and compose a year of study are:
• Who we are
• Where we are in place and time
• How we express ourselves
• How the world works
• How we organize ourselves
• Sharing the planet.
Units of inquiry interweave subject areas such as mathematics, language arts, science and social studies. This approach encourages students to make connections between what they learn and how it relates to the world around them.
Taking action is intricate part of the IB inquiry cycle which could be interpreted as a “conclusion” to learning. When taking action, students make connections to new knowledge they have acquired and apply their skills in everyday life. This shows that students have a deep and lasting understanding, which can also be used to make connections to existing knowledge or to new questions. Actions are student-initiated activities that stem from a genuine concern and a desire to make a positive difference. Action might take the form of sharing new knowledge with others in order to increase others’ awareness of important issues, or it may be a project in response to needs of a particular community-locally or globally. Through action, students develop skills such as cooperation, problem solving, conflict resolution, and critical thinking, and they learn that even the smallest of us can make a difference.
Richland Academy is an inquiry-based learning school with a strong academic program. In Grades 1 to 6 teachers implement the IB-PYP Curriculum Framework interweaved with the Ontario Provincial Curriculum.
Knowledge, Concept, Skill, Attitude, Action
These are the five essential elements that students need to lead successful lives underpin the PYP’s Curriculum Framework. Richland Academy works with the five elements to construct a rigorous and challenging primary education curriculum that is transdisciplinary, engaging, relevant, and significant. Nurturing independent learning skills, and encouraging every student to take responsibility for their learning, the PYP develops students’ academic, social and emotional wellbeing, while simultaneously focusing on international-mindedness and the development of strong personal values.
Our curriculum is enhanced by our respect for nature. We purposefully schedule nature walks which allow children to make observations, sketch what they see, generate thought-provoking questions for further study, and develop socialization skills. Outdoor experiences also enhance their mental health and well-being and provide the needed physical movement that is crucial to brain development and learning.
Subjects include Language Arts, French, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Visual Art, Performing Arts, and Health and Physical Education.
We often hear people say: “I have seen Reggio-inspired environments for very young children but we’ve never seen it applied in grade schools. We love it!” This comment doesn’t surprise us because there isn’t another school in Ontario that integrates Reggio design principles across all grade levels.
Why did we do it? Because the principles are equally as important and impactful for older children as they are for younger children. We wanted to create the very best conditions for learning. And we know you want that for your children, too.
In our Junior School the environment is clean, open, and inviting. Classrooms have soaring windows and are filled with natural light. Instead of desks in rows, there are work tables for collaborative learning, cozy spaces for reading and reflection, and sofas and comfy chairs grouped together for conversation. Children in the Junior School have a home room and travel as a group to the specialist subjects of Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Health and Physical Education, and French.
Children from Grades 1 to 6 utilize the amazing facilities of our entire school, including our piazza (an open public space used for community gatherings), science lab, maker space, yoga and meditation room, full gymnasium, and kitchen. Junior students also enjoy our outdoor play spaces and nature walks on the Saigeon Valley trail, located directly behind our school.